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Issue 03/2015

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Injection Moulding From

Injection Moulding From beach toy to 100 % bio-degradable Cradle to Cradle Islands project By: Sebastian Thomsen Senior Business Development Manager BIO-FED, branch of AKRO-PLASTIC GmbH Cologne, Germany As part of a European Union support programme, 22 partners from 6 different countries took part in the Cradle to Cradle Islands project, with the aim of making a contribution to sustainable development of the biosphere on the islands of the North Sea region. During this project, the islands became laboratories and testing grounds for sustainable innovations. In cooperation with the Dutch engineering firm Pezy (Eindhoven/Groningen) and the EPEA (Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency), 25 actual product concepts for innovative tourism products were developed based on the Cradle-to-Cradle philosophy. These product concepts were designed to help maintain the beauty and cleanliness of the North Sea islands. By promoting economic activity in the region in a sustainable, healthy and creative manner, they are also having a positive impact on inhabitants and visitors to the islands. Beach toy One of the 25 concepts was based on the fact that every year, many children’s toys are lost or left behind and end up in the sea, where they contribute to the pollution of the shoreline and the oceans. To solve this problem, the Superscoop was developed. The Superscoop, a multifunctional beach toy used for shovelling and carrying sand or water, makes playing at the beach even more fun for small children. The appropriate, child-friendly frog-shaped design and ergonomic details were developed for children aged three to six years old. Biological or technical metabolism The Cradle-to-Cradle principles were taken into account during all phases of development. Special care had to be taken particularly when selecting the materials to be used, since products which satisfy the requirements of the philosophy must be fully recyclable and/or biodegradable in soil, ideally in sea water, or in an industrial composting facility. Should the Superscoop happen to land in the ocean, it will bio-degrade. 14 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/15] Vol. 10

Injection Moulding To determine which end-of-life scenario is best suited for this product, the life cycle of existing shovels and buckets was first examined. Rather than being disposed of properly at the end of their life cycle, it seems that many of these toys unintentionally went missing instead. It is therefore to be expected that the Superscoop will also frequently find its way into the maritime ecosystem. For this reason, industrial composting was ruled out, and the focus turned to an eco-friendly material with the potential to bio-degrade in sea water. Development process During development, the child-friendly frog design was first realised as an injection-mouldable concept. Bright colors or imprints are typically used for this type of toy to enhance a child’s playing pleasure and improve its easeof-identification. From the Cradle-to-Cradle perspective, however, this would require the use of 100 % innocuous pigments and materials. Both for humans and the ocean. Taking into consideration all of the desired properties in terms of texture and shape, this presented the biggest problem. Material During the entire development process, the Dutch engineering firm Pezy Product Innovation worked together with the Portuguese injection-moulder Moldes RP (Marinha Grande). Rui Pinho, Managing Director of Moldes RP, was thrilled with this project from the very start and decided to invest in the mould. Tests were conducted with this mould using various materials which were designed to be biodegradable and manufactured from renewable resources, and which met mandatory safety standards for use in children’s toys. The component had to have a certain stability when handled by children and an appropriately long durability, whilst also decomposing relatively quickly if it ended up in the ocean. The choice ultimately fell upon a biopolyester blend, mvera ® GP1001 from BIO-FED (a branch of AKRO-PLASTIC GmbH). This variant of the blend is in fact produced from fossil resources. The matrix polymer, however, is biodegradable wherever bacteria exist (e. g. in soil, and potentially in the ocean) and does not require high temperatures for decomposition as are present only in industrial composting facilities. Moreover, all monomers today could already be produced as bio-based materials in principle. And the pigments used in this product are entirely free of ecologically harmful substances. The masterbatch from Akro-Plastic GmbH branch AF-COLOR used to color the Superscoop contains only components which comply with the current DIN EN 13432 standard. These components have successfully passed both the Cress test and the Barley Plant test and have received the corresponding Vinçotte certification. Partnership Biopolymers, irrespective of which variant, either (partially) bio-based and/ or bio-degradable, cannot typically serve as simple substitution products. Owing to the complexity of this matter, purchasing departments alone cannot adequately provide the selection of materials for what are frequently designated sustainable or green products. Experience has shown that product developments using biopolymers are most successful when project teams from across the supply chain (from the customer to the raw-material supplier) and involving various departments (Purchasing, Engineering, and Sales, in particular) work together to come up with solutions. This was the approach pursued by the Dutch service provider Pezy Product Innovation, an expert in the design of innovative product solutions. Thanks to this work performed in multidisciplinary teams and the successful cooperation with EPEA (sustainability consulting), Moldes RP (mould construction and injection moulding) and BIO-FED (bioplastic producer), this product is now ready for volume production. The Superscoop is also stackable. The Cradle-to-Cradle ® concept refers to a type of cyclical resource utilization in which production processes are aimed at the preservation of added value. Like the nutrient cycle in nature, in which waste from one organism is used by another, material flows in production are planned such that waste and the inefficient use of energy are avoided. The Cradle-to-Cradle concept was developed in 2002 by Michael Braungart and William McDonough. The concept is based on a term introduced in the 1970s by the Swiss corporate and political consultant Walter R. Stahel. Just as in nature, Cradle to Cradle has no limitations, nothing is wasted and nothing is relinquished. Through the use of biological and technical nutrient cycles, the right materials are used in the right place, at the right time. And the final result is always improved quality. The Cradle-to-Cradle production method directly opposes the Cradle-to- Grave model, in which material flows are frequently established without consideration of resource conservation. Rather than minimising linear material flows in today’s products and production methods, the Cradle-to-Cradle design concept transforms these into cyclical nutrient cycles, meaning that once values are added, they are preserved for people and the environment. The Cradle-to-Cradle design concept is based on three basic principles: • Waste as nutrients • Use of renewable energy • Promotion of diversity bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/15] Vol. 10 15

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